Crab Apple Chutney

Make this chutney for dipping, topping, or as the base to a Curried Crab Apple Sauerkraut Salad.

From "The Fruit Forager’s Companion"
May 2018

  • Serve this chutney during the holidays for a complimentary flavor.
    Photo by Sara Bir
  • Learn how to forage and cook with fruit found in your neighborhood in Sara Bir’s “The Fruit Forager’s Companion”.
    Cover courtesy Chelsea Green

Yield: 2 – 2 1⁄2 cups

The Fruit Forager’s Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More from Your Neighborhood and Beyond (Chelsea Green 2018) by Sara Bir shares how to forage, ferment, cook, and bake using ingredients found in your neighborhood. This chutney can be sweet or savory depending on the mood. 

Chopping crab apples is slow going. Here is the only recipe I will do it for. This chutney is great with gamy or smoked meats, or even smoked cheese. It’ll also earn a spot at your Thanksgiving spread, whether you serve turkey or not. It’s best made with larger crab apples — they are much easier to core — that aren’t very tannic. The sage really makes this, but you can use other forceful fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary. If you have fresh sauerkraut around, you can easily make a batch of Curried Crab Apple Sauerkraut Salad.


  • 4 cups crab apples
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 dried or fresh spicebush berries, finely crushed or chopped, optional
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, thyme, or rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut the crab apples from their cores with a paring knife; discard the cores (leave the skins on). Chop the flesh roughly. You should have 2 cups chopped, cored crab apples.
  2. Put the crab apples in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the crab apples are soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool (I leave the cinnamon stick in there so it keeps steeping). The chutney is best after its flavors meld for a day or two. It will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for at least a month.

Note: The sage is nice if you plan to serve this with poultry, pork, or game (I had this with smoked pheasant breast once, and it blew my mind). The thyme works better for topping cheese and crackers. If your cranberries are unsweetened, you may want to add a little more honey.

More from The Fruit Forager’s Companion:

This excerpt is adapted from Sara Bir’s book The Fruit Forager’s Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More from Your Neighborhood and Beyond (Chelsea Green 2018) and is adapted with permission from the publisher.

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